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Summer Experience

Summer, Image copyrighted & courtesy of Chris Slavo

We fly from Ft. McMurray, out over the Wood Buffalo region. The water breaks gently under the floatplane’s pontoons as they skim the surface of a remote lake. Our reels whine and rods arc under the weight of pike and lake trout that make their home in the depths of these lakes and rivers.

Children laugh in delight as they’re handed balloon animals. Coins tossed appreciatively clink at the feet of sidewalk performers whose talents draw cheers from crowds young and old. The smell of delicious food lingers and wafts throughout this colourful street festival.

Covering an area 3,400 square kilometres in size, the scope of the oil sands amazes. We take an interpretive tour and learn all about this valuable resource and its integral role in the success of the region. We also see nature being reclaimed in the oil sands region, so that the land remains beautiful and inspiring for generations to come.

The engine of a jet boat grumbles at idol as we drift in the river’s current. The guide applies the throttle and the engine’s grumble rises smoothly to a confident growl. We cruise effortlessly up river, past tree-covered islands and through deep churning channels, the breeze blowing against our faces all the while.

A crowded music festival erupts in cheer as the opening chords of a rock song cut through the PA. Famed recording artists take the stage in procession, singing and playing under bright lights, in front of thousands.

These are but a few portraits of my time in Wood Buffalo. And there are many more to discover and make your own in this inspiring region of the north, a region where summer experiences abound for everyone.

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Did You Know

Camping & campfire tips

Remember that overnight camping and open fires are strictly prohibited in the Athabasca Dunes and all other ecological reserves.  Camping is permitted within the Wildland Park, but access is restricted to foot only. Due to its protected designation, off-highway vehicles are also not permitted within ecological reserves.

Protect our natural resources and reduce conflicts with the following camping tips:

  • Random campers should stay a minimum of 30 meters away from any watercourses
  • Respect other campers and keep noise down to an acceptable level
  • Practice no-trace camping

Follow the following fire safety tips in the Athabasca Sand Dunes and Wood Buffalo National Park:

  • Open fires must be used wisely. Even a small campfire has the potential to become an unmanageable wildfire.
  • Always be sure to use the fire receptacle provided in the campground.
  • If your campsite does not have a receptacle, build your fire on rocks and sand, in an open area (not under a tree).
  • Keep your campfire small.
  • Never leave your campfire unattended.
  • When extinguishing your campfire, soak it, then soak it again.
  • Remember your campfire is not out until you can touch it.